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Super Bowl Can Mean Super Absences the Next Day

Super Bowl Sunday often results in employee no-shows the following Monday. An estimated 16.1 million of the 146 million adults employed in the U.S. expect to take the day off after watching the showdown between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7.

But 69 percent of respondents to a recent survey said they would feel guilty pretending to be sick this year when so many people are truly sick from COVID-19. In fact, 8.8 million workers plan to take a preapproved day off, according to the 2021 Super Bowl Absence Survey by The Workforce Institute at UKG and The Harris Poll.

A slight majority of the 1,007 respondents—51 percent—plan to watch the game at home with only the people they live with. Among those attending Super Bowl parties, 11 percent—more than 15 million employed adults—are either planning a social gathering or going to one with no COVID-19 precautions in place. Only 6 percent said they will be at a party where the number of guests is limited or other precautions are taken—watching the game outside, wearing masks or social distancing. Other findings:

  • Researchers estimate 4.4 million employees are planning to call in sick to work, even though they are not ill.
  • 53 percent of respondents admit they would be afraid to call in sick the day after the Super Bowl this year because their employer may require a doctor's note or a negative COVID-19 test result before allowing them to return to work.
  • 69 percent said they are worried about Super Bowl-related gatherings turning into COVID-19 "super-spreader events."
  • 33 percent with remote-work arrangements said they will slack off on Feb. 8. (The survey found 48 percent of U.S. employees are working remotely at least some of the time.)
  • Approximately 10.2 million employees plan to start work later than normal on the Monday following the Super Bowl.
  • 2.9 million employees said they will "ghost" their employer this year—that is, not show up for work and not tell anyone they will be absent. That is nearly double the 1.5 million who planned to ghost their employer the day after the Super Bowl in 2020.